18th October 2007

Real Influencers - Profiles in Action…

posted in Influencers |

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to meet Patty Seybold and Matthew Lees of the Patricia Seybold Group, at the Forum One Online Community Business Summit.  Patty has long been a thought leader on customer experience and more deeply connecting the voice of users with business innovation.

Recently, I was contacted by Matt who was working on some research titled:  Active Community Members:  What Makes them Tick?

Given the work I’ve done the last several years leading the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award program, I’m often asked about the DNA of community influentials.  In the 4+ years I’ve been leading this program, I suspect I’ve met personally more than 3000 Community leaders from well over 50 countries.  Whenever I meet with press, analysts or peers from other companies, a common interest is why do these community leaders do what they do??  Sometimes I just want to say: "if you have to ask, you just don’t get it."  (that of course is not a very helpful answer.)

In some ways it’s easier to just be really explicit about what isn’t the reason.  It really starts with one which I think is key to the ethos of understanding communities:  Community leaders don’t do what they do to help you - the company.  They do what they do to help their fellow users.  The benefits to you (the company/brand) are by-products, not motivations.  Failure to understand this difference is one of the most common errors I see in how companies try to engage in communities focused on their products.

When Matt contacted me, he was anxious to talk to one of our MVP’s as part of pulling together some profiles of real community leaders.  He connected with Bharat Suneja, Principal Exchange Architect at Zenprise; Microsoft MVP and member of the Microsoft Exchange Server Community. 

You can read a synopsis of Matt’s research outputs here which includes not only the outputs of his interview with Bharat, but several other community leaders as well.

On a side note, I’m honored to be joining a group known as Patty’s Visionaries for an upcoming event November 6th-7th in Santa Monica California.  Another great chance to connect and learn from others!


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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2007 at 1:33 am and is filed under Influencers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. 1 On November 15th, 2007, Tom O'Brien said:

    Hi Sean:

    Interesting post - and one that I think gets to the heart of what makes online communities tick. I am a longtime newsgroup and forum junkie for my passions (windsurfing and cars) and it is all about connections and helping each other out.

    Take a look at this goodbye letter from longtime Rennlist owner when he sold the forum:


    Tom O’B

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